Johnny Football: Yes or No?

By Mark Yost
The Houston Business Journal

Former President George W. Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will take in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s pro day on March 27 in College Station. So will the Houston Texans. Regardless of his performance, the question on every Houstonian’s mind is this: Will the Texans make the player nicknamed Johnny Football the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on May 8?
FootballTexans and Aggies fans will have to wait to find out. But what does the Houston business community think about the player who famously said he wanted everyone to want him on the team, from Texans owner Bob McNair to the janitor.
Houston’s business community seems divided along two lines:
There’s no business case to draft Manziel because the Texans have a 24,000-person season-ticket waiting list and, despite an abysmal 2-14 season in 2013, Texans PSLs continued to appreciate.
Then there’s this — forget the business model, he’s the most exciting player in football.
John Grayson, a principal in Cokinos, Bosien & Young, and a 1980 A&M grad, is in the latter camp.
“Forget height, weight, stats and all that other stuff. In terms of competitiveness, natural ability and pure excitement, there is nobody like Johnny,” he said. “Of course the Texans should draft him. Big mistake if they don’t.”
Grayson’s boss, Greg Cokinos, is also in the “draft Manziel” camp.
“The Texans need a quarterback, so lets get the best one,” he said. “He is a Texan, born, bred and raised. How on God’s green earth could we pass on all that?” Cokinos said.
Dan Bass, managing director of investment banking at Performance Trust Capital Partners and University of Texas at Austin grad of ’86, is in the camp that thinks Manziel was great in college, but there’s “too much downside risk” to draft a player who barely stands 6-foot-1 into the NFL, where linemen average about 350 pounds.
Bass, always focused on key mergers and acquisitions in Houston, also doesn’t see the business case for making Manziel a Houston Texan.
“It isn’t like you need to draft him to sell tickets to the Aggie faithful,” he said. “Ticket sales aren’t a problem.”
Chris Begala of media relations and PR frim Begala McGrath said drafting Maziel would be the “most exciting and significant selection by any Houston pro sports franchise,” ranking up there with the Houston Oilers making Earl Campbell the No. 1 draft pick in 1978 and the Rockets drafting Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984.
“Drafting Johnny Football would send a charge through the entire state of Texas, not just Houston,” Begala said. “The Texans would elevate themselves throughout the nation as Johnny Football Texans jersey sales would instantly reach top five.”
Lane Clelland, a financial advisor at JEB & Co, perhaps has a little more authority to speak on the subject. He played football for Notre Dame from 2008-12.
“I think he’s going to do well,” Clelland said. “I think he’s going to surprise some people and could be a good pickup for the Texans.”
While most everyone had something to say about Manziel, Trevor McGinnis, a CPA at Fitts, Roberts and a Texans season ticket holder since 2002, was very succinct.
“Do not draft him,” he said.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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